I remember the pain of growing up. If you looked up “awkward” in the dictionary, my picture was there. My older siblings were always involved with everything. My sister was class president and head cheerleader, and my brother was the star athlete. Both were popular kids. I was not sure what I was.
It seems like whatever I tried, I was always just mediocre. I tried sports, academics, everything. But I always just seemed to be just ordinary, the guy on the bench waiting for a chance that never came.
Even before I gave my life to Christ, I used to pray to God for one taste of popularity, for one chance to be part of the in-crowd. Until ninth grade, I was chubby and clumsy and always the last one picked for everything. I was definitely one of the outcasts. I was an untouchable.
In Hinduism, the “Untouchables” make up a group of people who occupy the lowest rung of the social ladder. They are the scum of the earth as far as the other four principle castes are concerned. In other words, they are “out-castes.”
Being outside of the caste system, they are also outside of society. Traditionally, untouchables have only been permitted to live on the outskirts of villages and they have been prohibited from taking water from the same wells as members of higher castes.
Many untouchables were only allowed to move around at night, lest the very sight of them pollute someone from a higher caste.
Traditionally, education was not an option. Salvation was only achievable for untouchables by humbly accepting their lot in life and hoping that they live well enough to be allowed to be born into a higher caste in the next life.
Some synonyms of the word outcast include rejected, ostracized, degraded, expelled, exiled, left out, overlooked, passed over, blackballed and disgraced. Any of these definitions ever apply to you? Many people take their rejection by the popular group and wear it like a badge of honor. They make up their own groups and call themselves grunge or punk.
When I was young, the term was hippie. They declare that the in crowd is shallow and preppy and not worth being a member of. They dress and talk in a way that forces the rest of society to notice them, but the style is radically different from anything else people have ever seen. In this way, they reinforce their rejection of traditional or accepted society and are actually strengthened in their rebellion. They expect and revel in rejection. But inside, they are still damaged goods.
In 1 Corinthians 4:3-4, the author reminds us that the only opinion that matters is God’s, not what we think of other people of what they think of themselves. “I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.” He also reminds us not to judge.
Matthew 7 says this, “Judge not, that you be not judged, for with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged: and with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again.”
Only God knows what is in the heart of that executive, that homeless person, white, black, Hispanic, whatever. You have to look beyond the exterior to the heart. Even the people who seem to have it all together can be dying on the inside.
And for those of you who think you have it all together, for those to whom everything comes easily? If you think you are somebody because of what you have accomplished or because you are naturally beautiful, athletic or musical, think again.
1 Corinthians 4:6-20 says, “Don’t take pride in one man over against another. For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?”
Conversely, for those who feel like worms, like nobody understands you, check this out from the Apostle Paul:
1 Corinthians 4:9-13 says “For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like men condemned to die in the arena (or to paraphrase “like the last ones chosen in dodge ball”).
We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to men. We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored!
To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly. Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world.”
The scum of the earth, the outcasts, the untouchables…Paul seems to relate more to this group than to any other. As a Christian, he is experiencing more anguish, hardships and rejection by conventional society than when he was a respected Pharisee and ranking member of his religious class. Christians today seem to be the most persecuted religion society on earth. For all the talk of tolerance and political correctness, Christians seem to be the outcasts.
Vs 14 of 1 Corinthians says this: “I am not writing this to shame you, but to warn you, as my dear children. Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me.”
Imitate the guy who is getting all the flak, the guy at the end of the line? “But people will talk about me if I act like him,” you say. Yeah, maybe…Paul is telling us that to be great in the kingdom of God, you have to be the servant (or the lowest caste) of all, an untouchable, able to relate to the small as well as the great.
2 Corinthians 12:1-15 says this: “I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say.
To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That‘s why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
It is in our weaknesses that we are made strong, not our strengths. So, for those who struggle, remember these words. An Untouchable is one who is rejected and despised, especially socially. Can you think of anyone else who fits that description?
1 Peter 2:4 says, “As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
For in Scripture it says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone, and, “A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall…”
vs. 22, “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth. When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.”
When you are persecuted, minister in the opposite spirit. Then, your enemy will be disarmed and unable to prevail against you. Love those who persecute you and spitefully use you. Bless them.
But untouchable can also mean something exceptional. It can mean being beyond the reach of criticism, impeachment, or attack. In Christ, we are above anything that can come against us. Every tongue that speaks against us will be cut off. No weapon formed against us will prosper.
When I got the ninth grade, I changed schools and joined the football team. I grew leaner and more muscular. That year, I was the new mystery boy at school. I had no past, only a future. I got my taste of popularity. Did that solve all my problems? Guess what? No, I got worse.
In many ways, I became just like the people I had resented. Popularity was not what I had needed. I was wrong because there was something else I needed to make my life worth living. I spent the next few years looking for that thing in alcohol, drugs, and sex. I was 21 when I finally found what I really needed to feel accepted, to feel loved. It was Jesus.
Since then, I have been around the world sharing the gospel message in New Zealand, Russia, Panama and soon Japan. I have been water and snow skiing, scuba and sky diving, even been around the track at Talladega Superspeedway at 110 mph. I have done things that others have only dreamed about. And more importantly, I have found my calling.
All of us are untouchables in Christ. We are beyond the judgment of the world. And we judge no one. All who are in Christ are our brothers and sisters, no matter what they look like, no matter how they dress or wear their hair or have different likes and dislikes from us—family. Those who are not are our mission field.
When it comes to the hurting and the lost, be approachable. But to sin and judgment, be untouchable.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of Our Prattville or its editor or publisher.
Article by Cameron Reeder
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